After our last minute decision to stop in Hardy country, we looked for alternative accommodation in Penzance instead of the camping due to the extreme weather and C’s cold. As we were a day behind in our plan by this stage we had to fast forward our exploration of Dartmoor Forest and opted to drive through it and have a quick stop and look around rather than stopping for a night and going for a hike. This would give us two nights down in Cornwall proper which was actually the point of the whole trip.
Thankfully the traffic had cleared by this stage so we had a pretty clear run across to Dartmoor. Driving through looked like a good option considering it wasn’t the ideal hiking weather and we still got to take in some magnificent views. I can’t say I am too sure why they call it a forest when actually it is more like a moor… big huge open spaces and rolling hills… but there you go. I can imagine it being a really lovely place to walk around during the summer, with it’s rolling hills and wildlife but when we were there it was a little brown and all the deer and what not were clearly sheltering within the bushes.
Once we got through the ‘forest’, we stopped at a little town called Tavistock to stretch our legs and get our bearings before continuing through to Penzance. For a small country like the UK, it is a surprisingly long way down to the tail end of the country!! Tavistock was a great little town – they had a market on so we wandered around and had a look at some of the local produce as well as your standard market junk. We picked up some local cheeses and some local chutney (gluten free) for that night and to my surprise, amazement and delight, found a stall selling gluten free pâtés which I have typically found hard to get. They had a bunch of different flavours and a 3 for £10 deal so we picked up a mackeral, a chicken and a duck one and set off again on our remaining part of the journey.
I have to say, my general experience with the UK has been that gluten free products are hard to come by and pretty well unheard of anywhere outside of London, so the fact that I’d had such a great experience during this trip just rocked my GF world. I was so relieved and surprised to find so many things this far out and pleased to see the rest of the country catching up.
When we finally made it to Penzance we decided we’d made absolutely the right call to opt for ‘glamping’ instead of camping and were well pleased with our self contained fixed caravan that overlooked the ocean. Aside from the amazing view, and the sound of the ocean to lull us to sleep, we had a kitchen, our own bathroom, a heater and most importantly solid shelter from the cold air. We felt like we’d struck gold considering it was well within our budget and set in the delightful little borough of Penzance called Mousehole. Yes Mousehole… although it was pronounced ‘Mousell’ by the locals, many of whom corrected us when we pronounced it phonetically.
After a quick walk along the beach and a stop at the local market for some fresh fish and vegetables to cook for our dinner that night we decided we deserved a drink or two so headed to the local pub where C tried some of the pirate beer while I stuck to the locally brewed cider.
The next day we decided to do a drive and we ventured further south west to check out a few more places. A brief stop in Lamorna helped us discover that some of these smaller places are at their best in summer while a longer stop at Minack Theatre proved well worth the visit. Being an extreme lover of the theatre and the ocean, this place sang to my soul despite the bitingly cold winds and the fact that even through our hundred layers we were still uncomfortably cold.
We spent a fair bit of time here checking out the theatre and playing around on the stage and on the stairs, hiding from each other and pretending we were part of a play. Look, no one said I always acted like a grown up ok?
For those who don’t know, the Minack Theatre is an outdoor theatre built into the cliff face just off the town of Porthcurno. Many people go by the misconception that it was built by the Romans or that it was initially a naturally occuring flat that was turned into a theatre and you could be forgiven for mistakening it as Roman given the style it was built in. But it was actually the brainchild of one Rowena Cade a local who planned, built and financed the construction of the theatre from 1913 until 1938 when she died. You can read more about her and her childhood and influences on the Minack Theatre website. It is an absolutely stunning place and it would be a dream come true to see a production performed there. Maybe one day.
After the Minack, it was on to Land’s End, a couple of miles away where we got out and finally went on that hike, spending a couple of hours exploring the dramatic and stunning coastline. You can certainly see why this part of the UK became pirate country, what with so many little coves and nooks and crannies along the coastline. It is incredibly beautiful and although C sits more in the ‘you’ve seen one beach, you’ve seen them all camp’ I was taking photo after photo trying to capture the beauty of it all.
Although still pretty rocky, I finally saw some sandy white beaches in the UK!!! Such a shame not to be able to go swimming, but it was good to be so near the ocean in any case. It was so nice to breathe in the crisp salty air, watch the waves crash onto the cliff faces and just take it all in. I can’t tell you how much I miss the ocean and having beaches on my doorstep, so even though the weather wasn’t great, it was exactly the fix I needed.
Cornwall should definitely be on your bucket list if you’re planning a trip to the UK but I’d recommend going when you have a few days up your sleeve to explore it properly. There was so much more we would have liked to check out including castles, different towns, breweries, some ancient gardens, the Eden Project, and so much more.